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n8 Th. IV. Hu?i(, [1884-5. 

IX. — The Place of English in the College Curriculum. 
By TH. W. HUNT, Ph. D., 

PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC AND OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN THE 
COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY, PRINCETON, N. J. 

It is now customary among the most advanced students of 
modern education to divide the area of collegiate studies into 
the three great departments of Science, Philosophy, Language 
and Literature. Although within the sphere of a liberal training 
there are some studies not strictly included in this division, it is 
for all practical purposes a convenient and comprehensive one. 
It is with the last of these three departments that the present 
paper will deal. We mean by English, — the English Language 
and Literature as including, also, the subject of English style 
and criticism. The place of English as thus denned among 
other collegiate branches is one of the many open questions be- 
fore the educators and the educated public of to-day. It is a 
question so prominent and so urgently pressing for discussion 
and adjustment, that it must in some way be met. In the recent 
Modern Language Convention held at Columbia College, N.Y., 
it elicited special interest and clearly indicated the drift of 
modern opinion regarding it. It is the object of the present 
informal discussion to say a word on its behalf, if so be the de- 
partment of English in our American Colleges may be more 
truly appreciated and a more generous provision be made for 
its needs. 

I. 

THE PRESENT PLACE OF ENGLISH (IN OUR COLLEGIATE SYSTEM) 

It is patent to every careful observer of our educational 
methods that this place is one of decided inferiority. A cursory 
examination of the catalogues of our leading institutions will 
clearly reveal such an inferiority. In the oldest and what may 
be supposed to be the best regulated college of the country, we 
are told " that less than one-half as much instruction is offered 
in English as in the ancient tongues." A more extreme statement 



Vol. I.] English in the College Curriculum. 1 19 

may be made as to mcst of our important colleges. There are a 
few institutions indeed that constitute a pleasing exception. Such 
is Lafayette, "the first American College," as Prof. Owen states 
" that fully recognized the claims of English studies." This was as 
early as 1857. Such is Cornell University. Such, also, is The 
University of California, where the English schedule is especially 
full. Such, strange to say, are some of the smaller and weaker 
colleges of the South and West. In the great body of our 
colleges, however, the place of English is quite subordinate to 
that of all other related departments. This is true as to the 
time allotted it, and the results expected from it so that the aver- 
age graduate knows everything else among liberal studies better 
than he knows his own language and literature, and can do 
almost anything else better than express his ideas in clear, 
vigorous and elegant English. Todhunter, in his Conflict of 
Studies — makes no reference to English whatever, as if, indeed, 
it had no place at all in an educational scheme. Mr. Staunton, 
in his Great Schools of England, laments this neglect as he says, 
" Of all the chief modern languages, English is, perhaps, the 
worst spoken and written by educated men." Mr. Thwing in 
his "American Colleges" writes, "Most colleges offer very 
meagre opportunities for the study of the origin and growth of 
either our language or our literature." In a carefully prepared 
table showing the number of hours assigned to the different 
departments in twenty of our best colleges, he clearly proves 
this strong assertion. — (Amer. Colleges, p. 23). 

It is in point to allude to one or two causes of this neglect : 
as seen in Defective Teaching and Want of Appreciation. 

No department of college work has so suffered as the English 
at the hands of novices. In no department is there greater 
need of what might he called, Collegiate Service reform. Men 
are often appointed to English chairs apparently for no other 
reason than that they are able to speak the language grammat- 
ically and have a general society knowledge of the literature. 
Men who are still experimenting as to what their life-work is to 
be are willing, in the mean time, to do English work as a means 
to a higher end and on such terms are accepted by Boards of 
Trustees. Shamefully prevalent as this is in the lower schools, 
it is not without frequent illustration in our higher institutions. 
Hence the department is committed to those who have had no 
experience in conducting it ; who do not and cannot appreciate 



120 Th. W. Hunt, [1884-5. 

its scope ; who know nothing of its best methods and whose 
presence in it is mainly for personal ends. The anathemas of 
Alfred, of Chaucer and of Addison should rest upon them. The 
common sentiment, that any one can teach his vernacular, has 
been a curse to the English Department and largely accounts 
for what we see in the line of neglect and accepted inferiority. 
We agree with President Eliot " that there is no subject in which 
competent guidance and systematic instruction are of greater 
value." In this day of specialties, English is no exception. Its 
sphere is unique and it calls for special preparation. It may be 
noted further, that the inferior place assigned to English is partly 
due to that strange depreciation of the department which obtains 
so generally among parents, preparatory teachers, Boards of 
Trustees, Faculties of Arts, and with the general public. Some 
of this is comparatively thoughtless and innocent. Much of it, 
however, is blameworthy and is none the less so because it is 
based on educational traditions. It is the habit to underrate the 
vernacular. It is not one of the "substantial and necessary" 
departments as we are told. Its philology, it is said, takes us 
back to the barbarous days of the Anglo-Saxons ; its literature 
ranks among the self-acquired accomplishments of the student 
rather than among the difficult and " regular " studies, while its 
actual expression in composition and literary criticism must be 
left to natural methods. It occurs to us that there is nothing 
more trying to a sensitive English scholar than the attitude 
which many college professors in other departments are pleased 
to assume, relative to the English. This attitude is at times one 
of indifference. At times it is patronizing and cynical. The 
reference here is not to scientific men whose interests as instruc- 
tors are in widely different lines but to those who are identified 
with the departments of philosophy and the ancient languages 
and who are thereby presumed to have a just appreciation of 
all that pertains to the humanities. The English Department 
in our colleges has had to fight its way not only against illiteracy 
and ignorant prejudice but, also, against the persistent opposition 
of those from whom better things were expected. Whatever 
the causes, however, of the fact may be, the fact itself remains, 
that the historical place of English in our higher institutions has 
been a mere apology for a place, and it now claims a more 
generous acknowledgment. It insists, moreover, that its claims 
are reasonable and should at once be heeded. 



Vol. i.] English in the College Curriculum. 121 

II. 

THE RIGHTFUL PLACE OF ENGLISH (IN THE CURRICULUM). 

This, we hold, should be a prominent one, not meaning by 
this a place of precedence or supremacy, but an equitable posi- 
tion among other important linguistic and literary studies. 
President Eliot, in his suggestive article on " Liberal Educa- 
tion " (Century, June, '84), makes, perhaps, some extreme 
assertions. The drift of the paper, however, is in the right 
direction, and approaching changes in educational methods will 
prove the wisdom of most of his propositions. Among the 
statements not extreme is this: "The first subject which is 
entitled to recognition as of equal academic value with any sub- 
ject now most honored is, "The English Language and Litera- 
ture." These words may be accepted as the text of our discus- 
sion in this paper. It states just the truth, and in the most 
concise form. It is not so traditional as to say with the ultra 
conservative classicist that no change in the adjustment of the 
ancient and the modern is to be for a moment tolerated, nor is 
it so erratic as to insist that the old landmarks must be erased 
and the newer studies take precedence of all else. President 
Eliot is not arguing against the older so much as he is arguing 
in favor of the more recent regime. He is contending for the 
interests of modern history, of social, political and natural sci- 
ence and of English. The claim is that English should have 
" equal academic value " in the schedule with any other depart- 
ment of value. Instead of retaining that grossly unjust dis- 
proportion of time which Mr. Thwing's tabulated statement re- 
veals, being, in some cases, ten hours to one in favor of the 
foreign tongues, the proposal would secure something like a 
fair adjustment. It is not our purpose to discuss at this junc- 
ture the open question of classical teaching now before the 
American colleges. It touches the English question, however, 
just at this point and needs a passing notice. The question is 
not, Must the classics go ? nor is it the more specific question, 
Must the Greek go ? It is only the bigot and charlatan who 
would entertain, for a moment, either of these questions as 
related to college courses. The question is, will the classics as 
taught in our colleges make any concessions of their large 
amount of time to the modern languages appealing for such 
time ? More specifically, will they make such concession to the 



122 Th. W. Hunt, [1884-5. 

English ? We are within the department of language and lit- 
erature. In that department, the place of English has been 
almost a cipher. The ancient languages have had the field. 
English now applies for more space in the department — for its 
rightful place. Inasmuch as the modern European tongues are 
themselves in need of similar allowances, these concessions must 
be made on the classical side. From the outside departments 
of science and philosophy it is evident that nothing can be justly 
asked. It may be said, therefore, that the acknowledgment of 
this claim depends on the attitude of the classical brotherhood 
and on the strength of the English movement behind the claim. 
If such concessions are made voluntarily by classicists, the ques- 
tion will be solved beneficendy to all concerned. If such con- 
cessions are stoutly denied, then the desired result will be secured 
more slowly and irregularly, but will still be secured, by the 
simple pressure of the modern upon the ancient. This has 
already been partially illustrated. The elective classical courses 
in our colleges are, in the main, a reluctant concession to educa- 
tional pressure from without and these courses are increasing 
rather than lessening, beginning in Harvard even in the first 
year, and in some other institutions not later than the second. 
The demand of the English in common with that of some other 
studies is, — Give us a fair place in the general adjustment. Let 
lis work together as languages on a common ground and for a 
common end, but no longer on this enormous disproportion. 
Such a claim is made, partly, because of what the English is in 
itself as a language and literature and partly because we are 
living in an era when the vernacular must be understood as 
never before, — when all that is English must have " ample room 
and verge enough " to give it its proper expression in the 
national history. 

Within the general sphere of college studies, science made 
such a claim, and being denied, has established its separate 
schools of a professional order. Within the general department 
of philosophical study, similar claims are made by teachers of 
historical, political, and social science, and as these claims are 
unheeded, movements are even now in progress looking to the 
founding of separate schools, as in Columbia and the University 
of Pennsylvania. 

Similar claims are made and similar schemes are agitated as 
to the French and German. It is not impossible that a persistent 



Vol. I.] English in the College Curriculum. 123 

denial of the reasonable demands of Englis"h may lead to the 
organization of special schools where it can be taught with 
sufficient fulness. Whatever might be true of other departments, 
such an order of things would not be well as to English, in that 
the various branches of the one department of language and 
literature are so coordinated as to make their combined study 
logically necessary. In that " Renovated Curriculum " to which 
Professor Bain refers, a desirable adjustment can be reached on 
more rational methods. In some way or another the claims of 
the vernacular, so long and so urgently pressed, must be heeded 
and adjusted. Such an adjustment, we believe, will be practically 
effected within the experience of men now living. 

III. 

CONSEQUENT CHANGES AND BENEFITS. 

a. It is evident, at once, that from such a reconstruction of 
the English curriculum important results would ensue. There 
would be, as first in order, A more serious attention to elementary 
English in our preparatory schools. Up to the present time 
there may be said to have been no well-established English 
course in the large majority of such schools. The colleges have 
not required it and the schools have had no occasion of furnish- 
ing it. It is so at the present hour. Even where such a course 
has a place, it is nominal and superficial. Students and masters 
alike understand that it is aside from the " regular work " and 
may be compressed into a few exercises just preceding examin- 
ation at college. We speak here from an actual knowledge of 
the repeated testimony of entering students. Such applicants 
are annually appearing from our " best schools " who in the 
press of classical and mathematical work have scarcely opened 
the pages of an English grammar ; who know next to nothing 
of American history, and who, after all their preparatory lan- 
guage study, are unable to construct a correct and forcible Eng- 
lish paragraph. They know but little, if anything, of the laws 
of English sentence structure and the practical content and use 
of the English vocabulary. In a word, their " preparation " is 
exclusive of English. President Eliot is right when he says : 
" So little attention is paid to English in preparatory schools 
that half of the time, labor and money which the University 
(Harvard) spends upon English must be devoted to the mere 



124 Th. W. Hunt, [1884-5. 

elements of the subject." In other words, the college must do 
what long before should have been done. The fact is that the 
commercial colleges and scientific institutes of Technology and 
the common schools of the country give the only approximately 
good elementary drill in English that is now given. Hence, 
the anomaly appears that of two classes of students applying for 
admission, those who come from the classical schools only are 
by no means as well prepared in English as are those who early 
in life passed through the public school. In a fair competition 
as to English, the latter have the decided advantage. It is pre- 
cisely of this condition of things that President Porter is speak- 
ing in his American Colleges as he says : " The neglect of such 
culture (elementary English) in too many of the so-called 
classical schools of this country is inexcusable, and so long as 
this neglect continues, the colleges must suffer under reproaches 
which should not properly rest upon them." So radical have 
been the deficiencies that until quite recently no requirements in 
English have been demanded by most of our colleges. In many 
of our institutions even now these requirements are rather nominal 
than real. It is especially lamentable, we think, that this condi- 
tion of things in our fitting schools should be most pronounced 
in those whose reputation in other departments is especially 
high and, in a sense, national. We refer to a number of the 
best classical schools of New England and the adjacent West, 
in which it would seem to be true that special pains are taken 
to shut out or suppress the study of English. 

In a preparatory school recently established at Lawrenceville, 
N. J., we are glad to note what appears to be a fairly adjusted 
English schedule. We commend it to the attention of educa- 
tors as a mark of advance in the right direction. If asked what 
specific modification of preparatory English the rightful place 
of English in college would secure, we answer, the remanding 
of the first year of collegiate English to the lower schools. This 
would effect the double end of arranging English justly both 
in school and at college and place the entering student at once 
upon a basis from which the best results would be reached. In 
addition to a more thorough knowledge of what is at present 
required, the student should appear tolerably well acquainted 
with the history of the English language in its outline facts and 
periods : with a fair knowledge of English etymology and 
structure ; with a substantial familiarity with the composite ele- 



Vol. i.] English in the College Curriculum. 125 

merits of the English vocabulary and conversant with, at least, 
the primary facts of historical English literature from the time 
of Bacon. All this is elementary, but essential. It would at 
once awaken new impulses in the student's mind, would open 
out a wide and an attractive field of study and would start him 
on his college work with an impartial judgment as to the claims 
of this or that department of activity. Mr. Hales, in his essays 
on Liberal Education, contends for this in reference to the 
schools of England. President Porter pleads for it in reference 
to the schools of America. Nothing will secure it but the proper 
position of English in the colleges. Could a few of our first 
colleges have the wisdom and the heroism to state these high 
terms of entrance and hold to them, the problem would be 
solved. In the present unseemly rivalry as to numbers among 
our leading institutions, it is Utopian, we fear, to expect this. 
Here, again, public opinion may compel educators to do what 
they refuse voluntarily to do. Perchance, the lower schools 
themselves, under the influence of such popular pressure, may 
compel the colleges to elevate their standards. 

b. Closely connected with this result attendant upon a right- 
ful adjustment of collegiate English there would ensue, A health- 
ful change in the methods and benefits of the leaching itself. In- 
struction purely primary and limited having had its proper place 
in the elementary course, would now give way to a more ad- 
vanced order of work. The purely historical method of dates 
and names, incidents and events, would now be secondary to the 
philosophic and critical methods. By safely gradationed stages 
the study of the English language would rise from a somewhat 
formal examination of phraseology and structure to a real 
philological study of the tongue in its content and its great 
linguistic changes, its inner spirit, and its possibilities. The 
study of mere grammatical laws as formulated by Brown would 
yield to the higher methods of such masters as Earle and Morris. 
Words would become, in Baconian phrase, "the footsteps and 
prints of reason." Principles and processes would take the place 
of mere detail and the interest resulting be commensurate with 
the increased profit. So as to the study of literature and style. 
This at once would become critical and comprehensive in dis- 
tinction from being merely chronological. 

The main facts being already in the possession of the student, 
an advance could at once be made to something like the pro- 



126 Th. W. Hunt, [1884-5. 

cess of generalization. The inductive principle in literary study 
is as valuable as it is in other realms and can be fully applied 
only in the event of assigning a larger place to English work. 
The current errors, that English literature is a subject for the 
desultory reader in his leisure hours rather than an intellectual 
study for serious workers ; that it ranks as an accomplishment 
only, and that the terms literary and philosophic, are mutually 
exclusive, are errors that have been strengthened by the super- 
ficial methods on which the subject has been taught in most of 
our institutions. The enlargement of the collegiate course in 
English will correct all this. It will substitute the disciplinary 
for the cesthetic method and give true literary inspiration rank 
above mere verbal finish. The soul of the authorship will deter- 
mine its excellence. The study will become psychological. It 
is this order of study and teaching that President Eliot has in 
mind when he insists that the purely disciplinary value of Eng- 
lish literary study has been greatly underrated. If it begin and 
end with fact only, it is easy to see that apart from the training 
of the memory, there is no exercise of the intellectual powers in 
it. If, however, by reason of preceding drill in the schools, the 
collegiate teaching may at once assume high ground, the study 
will take its place thereby with all other studies of a philosophic 
order and the result will be mental breadth and vigor. As 
President Porter remarks, "The critical study of English Liter- 
ature cannot be overestimated. It is thus that the spirit of 
independent activity can be most effectively directed." 

As a natural result of this better method our college classes 
would receive what could justly be called a thorough English 
education. As a matter of fact, they are, at present, greatly 
deficient in this regard. Nor are we speaking here of an igno- 
rance of that general English knowledge which is obtained by 
all students from the various branches of their collegiate work, 
but of those specific subjects formally falling under the English 
Department. Such deficiency on the part of the average graduate 
is greater than in any other important branch. Upon leaving 
college, he knows less of his vernacular than of any other lan- 
guage that has come before him and knows that little with less 
thoroughness. He has never been called to master the speech 
and letters of England as he has mastered those of other lands. 
Assuming an innate knowledge of these subjects not really pos- 
sessed, he is led to depreciate and neglect them. For such a 



Vol. i.] English in the College Curriculum. 127 

state of things the present narrowness of the English course is 
responsible, and the remedy lies in enlargement and thorough- 
ness. The pupil would then have time under the guidance of 
judicious instruction to make himself substantially conversant with 
First English Philology in Caedmon, Bfeowulf and Alfred; to study 
its characteristics and structure ; to mark its transition through 
the middle English of Layamon and Langlande to Chaucer and 
Spenser ; to mark the great historical periods of Modern Eng- 
lish from the Elizabethan to the Victorian ; to study it in its 
relation to other Teutonic tongues — in fine to take up for the 
first or more minutely a thousand questions on which the college 
student should be informed and in virtual ignorance of which he 
is, at present, compelled to graduate. 

So, in the province of English criticism and Literature, as the 
field here is still wider, the deficiencies of the average graduate 
and the benefits of an enlargement of the course are all the more 
marked. In such leading institutions as Yale and Princeton, it 
would seem to be in the line of travesty to assign to the profes- 
sor of Engljsh Literature not more than two hours a week for 
one-half of the course and expect him to ground his classes 
therein. An application of Dr. Taylor's classical method or of 
Professor March's Philological method to the study of Shake- 
speare alone would scarcely conduct the student beyond the 
first half-dozen plays in the two years. Any proper study of 
the grand department of English Prose Authors would more 
than fill up such an allotment of time. What a host of topics — 
historical, linguistic, legendary, poetic and rhetorical — gathers 
about one such poem as the Faerie Queen or Comus ! What 
deep and broad reaching questions of theology, metaphysics, 
social economy and literature center in The Essay on Man ! 
Who could study the Dunciad and not make himself familiar 
with a vast amount of English biography and history? The 
study of the great forms of poetry, of the principles of poetic 
art, of the leading canons of style as illustrated in English 
classics, of the life and times of an author as related to his liter- 
ary productions, of the influence of other literatures upon the 
English — the study of such germinal topics as these now 
necessarily passed with discursive comment, would by the read- 
justment of the course receive something like the attention they 
deserve and " furnish forth " the student with the knowledge he 
so much needs. Every graduate of an American college should 



128 Th. W. Hunt, [1884-5. 

be thoroughly conversant at his graduation with just such a 
body of English teaching as we have oudined. He owes it to 
himself as an English-speaking man to be thus " thoroughly 
furnished " and so prepared to do his work in the world among 
his English fellows. 

c. It is pertinent here to remark that it is only by such a 
widening of the course in English that the important problem 
as to efficient English teachers can be solved. In no surer way 
would the training of a body of high class English instructors 
be secured. It is often said by way of adverse criticism that 
despite the urgent need of competent teachers of English, the 
English department in our colleges fails to provide them. The 
charge is a just one and the explanation lies in the direct line of 
our discussions. The course is too restricted to do anything 
more than give the barest outline and introduction of the sub- 
ject. Certainly, nothing can be done in the way of making 
teachers or awakening in students such a desire. The only 
remedy is, in that expansion of the course by which the student 
would be truly educated in English. Dr. Porter, in his article 
on Preparatory Schools, makes timely allusion to this duty of 
the college. It is one of the first obligations of every important 
department of college study to furnish competent teachers in 
that department. One of the best tests of the efficiency of a 
department is found at this point. No pastor should more cer- 
tainly look for converts under his preaching and pastoral care 
than should the college professor look among his classes for 
those desirous of becoming teachers and able to do so. The 
departments of classics, mathematics and philosophy have par- 
tially succeeded in this from the fact that what has been denied 
the English has been accorded them. If the trustees of our 
colleges desire a succession of superior English professors, then 
must the English course be made by them " of equal academic 
rank " with any other department. The curse of Jehovah is still 
on the theory of bricks without straw. Students properly edu- 
cated in English would call at once for graduate courses in 
such studies, by the agency of which a continuous body of high 
class English scholars would be ready on demand. The reac- 
tionary influence of this upon the colleges and the lower schools 
would be stimulating in the extreme. 

d. We allude to a single further benefit of the rightful 
adjustment of English. — The marked increase of English 



Vol. I.] English in the College Curriculum. 129 

Literary Culture in our colleges and in the country. As to 
the special absence of this, at present, nothing need be said. 
The need is obvious to every observer. It would scarcely 
be aside from the truth to say that with the exception of 
one or two of our American institutions, our colleges are, 
in no true sense, literary centers. We are using the term 
literary in its specific sense as related to the study of English, 
quite distinct from that other literary influence connected with 
classical studies or from that general literary culture which re- 
sults from the pursuit of the liberal arts. General literary cul- 
ture and special classical culture are often found where a definite 
English literary culture is lacking and this we are bound to 
maintain, is for English speaking students the highest form of 
culture. In speaking of our colleges as the literary institutions 
of the country, special emphasis is to be given to that form of 
literary culture which is distinctively English. No amount of 
general culture and no amount of any specific culture from other 
sources than English study will give it. It must have the home 
flavor. In the sphere of English literary criticism what lament- 
able failures are daily seen on the part of those critics who bring 
no special English culture to their work but come to it only as 
general students, or as those conversant with the foreign ton- 
gues — ancient and modern. We insist that every American 
College should be instinct with English literary thought and 
life, so that faculty and students alike should feel it ; so that 
those who come from the outside world to these institutions 
should feel it, and so that the effect of it upon the national life 
would be potent and elevating. We are speaking now to a point 
second to no other in the department of English as it stands re- 
lated to academic and public life. We can but express our 
meaning here by raising the question so often raised, What are 
our colleges doing specifically for English Literature in America — 
for American Prose and Poetry? We are told on every hand 
that our literature is on the decline ; that the heroic age of 
American Letters has no counterpart in modern times, and that 
in the main our literature is confined to fiction, periodicals and 
lighter verse, rather than to the great departments of creative 
prose and song. These questions are worth heeding. It is said 
by those acknowledging the charges, that the mission of America 
is not literary but industrial ; that we are to expect an inferior 
order of literary art and a sluggish popular interest therein. It 



130 Th. IV. Hunt, [1884-5. 

is stated, also, by way of palliation, that the country is too young 
as yet for any decided development along these higher lines of 
national endeavor. These replies are partial and evasive. The 
difficulty lies deeper. Most of it is found in the want of a more 
distinctive literary English culture in our colleges. Students 
are not kept long enough in contact with the inner life of Eng- 
lish Letters to take on something of that spirit which is resident 
therein. They fail to receive that literary bent and impulse 
which is the result of abiding " communion with the visible 
forms " of English authorship. They are not sufficiently in- 
doctrinated. 

Hence, the large majority of our graduating classes go forth 
quite indifferent to the claims upon them of doing subsequent 
literary work, quite ignorant of the meaning and methods of such 
work, and quite uninterested, also, in the success or failure of the 
chosen few who may devote themselves to such activities. It is 
certainly not too much to say that in every graduating class of 
one hundred members there should be a goodly number of spe- 
cial English literary students — men who would be willing to 
survey, at least, the literary outlook in America and insist upon 
the assignment of good reasons why they should not make the 
attempt to do something in the field of national letters. What 
Milton terms "a complete and generous education" surely in- 
cludes more fully that culture of the English mind and taste and 
heart, through the agency of which those possessing it will know 
all that is true and beautiful and good of an English character 
and be enabled to furnish such literary product for the apprecia- 
tion of others. It is interesting to note that in the case of some 
of our earlier American authors, the high literary work of their 
maturity was somewhat anticipated in their collegiate days. It 
was thus with Motley, Prescott, Emerson, Everett, and Ticknor 
at Harvard. It was eminently so with Hawthorne and Long- 
fellow at Bowdoin, as with Willis at Yale and with Bryant in his 
partial course at Williams. These and other writers that might 
be mentioned may be said to have begun their literary career 
at college. In addition to all that they owed to natural gifts, 
they owed something to that distinctive culture which was more 
prominent then in academic circles than it is now. 

It were highly desirable that more of our graduates might go 
forth with a similar preparation and purpose. If it is answered 
here, that the profession of literature is not lucrative, we have 



Vol. I.] English in the College Curriculum, 131 

but to turn to the lives of some of these very authors, as Haw- 
thorne and Bryant, or to such non-collegiate men as Irving, 
Halleck, Cooper, and Bayard Taylor, to note through what 
personal struggles they went to realize their aims. It is sur- 
prising to mark how many of them reached literature through 
law, journalism and even business, or combined one of these 
pursuits with authorship itself. American literature is looking, 
as never before, to our colleges for her literary men, — her writers 
and critics, and this result, we repeat, will mainly depend upon 
a more serious attention in colleges to English work. 

The place of English, therefore, in the college curriculum 
should be that of prominence. As the department of language 
and literature should rank with that of science or of philosophy, 
so, within the language department itself, the invidious distinc- 
tions that have so long had sway against the vernacular should 
yield by gradual concessions to a more equitable regime. In a 
division of hours among the Latin, Greek, French, German, and 
English, let the honest one-fifth of the time be set apart to each. 
President McCosh, in his last report to the trustees of Princeton 
College, writes : "As much as we appreciate other languages, 
we should set the highest value on our own." 

President White, of Cornell, remarks : " It is impossible to 
find a reason why a man should be made B. A. for good studies 
in Cicero and Sophocles which does not equally prove that he 
ought to have the same distinction for good studies in Corneille, 
Schiller, Dante and Shakespeare." Recent statistics tell us 
" that notwithstanding the largely increased number of colleges 
in our country, the students in proportion to the population 
have been steadily decreasing for the last thirty years." The 
reference here is to colleges giving the degree of A. B. Among 
the assignable causes for such an anomaly it might not be amiss 
to ask whether an ultra conservative protest against the enlarge- 
ment of the modern studies, and most especially of the vernacu- 
lar, is not a possible one. Such an enlargement is at present 
before the American colleges with justifiable claims. It is notice- 
able that its attitude is becoming ever bolder and its educational 
and popular backing ever more formidable. Careful observers 
will not fail to note cheering signs of promise. Not only is it 
true, as Mr. Thwing asserts, " that the facilities for learning 
modern languages have vastly improved," but special facilities 
are at hand in the sphere of English. At no former period 



132 Th. W. Hunt. [1884-5. 

have such means been available. English philology has already 
taken its place in scholarly esteem side by side with that of any 
other tongue, while in English literature and criticism better 
and better results are realized. The question is practically be- 
fore the colleges — whether this literary development is to be 
made safe and reputable by being under collegiate guidance. 
It lies, we believe, within the province and the high privilege of 
our liberal institutions to hold such a control over national cul- 
ture and furnish the main material for its propagation. Literary 
culture should be more and more a scholarly culture. In the 
timely proposal that a larger place should be given to the modern 
studies, we press the claims of the native speech " to equal aca- 
demic rank " with any other study of value. This should be 
done for its own sake as a language and literature, for the sake 
of our historic and providental relations to it as our vernacular, 
and by reason of the present era as eminently modern and Eng- 
lish. On the ground, also, of those various benefits which such 
an expansion of English in the college curriculum will secure to 
the lower schools, to the colleges themselves, to the general 
American public and to American letters — we commend its 
temperate claims to the intelligent judgment and practical sup- 
port of all those among us who have to do with educational 
reform.